From My Kitchen Year: Tart Lemon Tart

December 16, 2015

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½ cup cashews (or unsalted almonds or hazelnuts)

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar


¾ cup flour


10 tablespoons (1¼ stick) butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

5 large eggs, separated

4 large lemons

¾ cup sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch


Begin by making a tart shell. If you have some nuts on hand—I like cashews in this crust, but unsalted almonds or hazelnuts are also excellent—carefully toast a handful, then grind them in a spice grinder or food processor with the flour, the confectioner’s sugar, and a pinch of salt. Put the nut mixture into a bowl and cut in 4 tablespoons of butter with two knives until it is the size of peas. Stir in the olive oil and 1 egg yolk.

Form the dough into a disk, put it between two pieces of plastic wrap, and roll it out to an 11-inch round. Press the dough gently into a 9-inch tart shell with a removable bottom, and chill for half an hour. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes and allow to cool on a rack.

To make the filling, grate the zest from 1 lemon. Squeeze all 4 lemons and mix the juice with the zest. Put the lemon mixture into a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pot and whisk in the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in 2 eggs plus 2 additional yolks.

Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium high. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to boil, then keep whisking for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth and thick.

Remove from the heat, add 6 tablespoons of butter (cut into pieces), and whisk the mixture until the butter has vanished. Spread into the tart shell and allow to cool. Put the tart in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.

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  • Betty Ann Bailey says:

    Looks just great, but I had a lemon pie in California in the early 1970’s baked from one of your cookbooks (Mmmmm, a Feastiary – I think). This pie was made with layers of lemon slices and was wonderful. I too, am a huge lemon lover. Growing up in New Orleans with a French mother, we used lemons in many, many seafood and dessert dishes.

    Now I am searching for that recipe. Can it be found anywhere? I was going to buy that cookbook but online it was selling for $400.

    • Ruth Reichl says:

      Hi Betty Ann,

      Haven’t thought about that particular pie in a long time. But here’s the recipe:
      3/4 cup sugar
      1/2 cup flour
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1 1/4 cups boiling water
      3 organic lemons
      2 tablespoons of butter
      pastry for a two-crust pie

      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

      Mix sugar, flour and salt. Add the water and beat until smooth.

      Grate the rind off one of the lemons and mix in.

      Carefully peel the rind and ALL of the white off the three lemons and slice very thinly. Stir into the mixture.

      Pour into a pie crust, dot with butter. Roll out the second crust, crimp the edges, cut a few slits int the top and bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for about an hour, or until the top is golden.

      I hope it’s great. Now you’ve made me want to try this once again.


      pastry for a 2-crust pie

  • Monique Etchevers says:

    I made your recipe for Tart Lemon Tart which is delicious. However, it does not state number of ounces of lemon juice and lemons can vary so much in their amount of juice. Any chance that you could give me a measurement of lemon juice ounces you recommend. I loved it, but my lemons were very large and very juicy. It was just a little too tart for me, and I love tart.
    Thank you.

    • admin says:

      You usually get about a quarter cup of juice from a lemon, so the 4 lemons should give you a cup. But I made this with really juicy lemons last week, ended up with a cup and a half of juice and loved how tart it was.

  • Monique says:

    Hello. Thank you for your response. If I wanted to make the filling a little sweeter, what would you suggest adding? Also, the filling is a little soft , what you you suggest adding to making it a little firmer. The taste is wonderful and the crust is out of this world.

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